Lessons Learned from Week One in the Group of Five

Sun Belt

Georgia State – Well, hell, that actually happened, huh? The Panthers continue to be an injury or two away from cratering their entire offense, and Tennessee might not be that good, but it’s still the first P5 win in program history for Georgia State.

Troy, ULM, and App State dominated FCS teams, while Georgia Southern and Texas State got dominated by SEC teams, one more so than the other.

Ark St faced off against SMU and the Red Wolves had no offense at all the first half. The only time they crossed midfield was a drive that started at the SMU seven-yard line. They eventually woke up, but couldn’t stop Shane Buechele enough times for it to matter.

Coastal Carolina hosted Eastern Michigan, and EMU quarterback Mike Glass wasn’t amazing but he was efficient. The Chanticleers have a lot of work to do on offense after three second-half interceptions including one on the first play after they successfully recovered an onside kick trailing 30-23.

South Alabama and the Ragin Cajuns were respectable against Nebraska and Miss St respectively.

MWC

Well, this should be an interesting year for the Mountain West.

Hawaii survived… well, themselves to upset a Power 5 team. We figured that was just a wild opening to the season for Mountain West teams, but it’s starting to become a trend.

Utah State nearly upset Wake Forest on the road but fizzled in the final minutes much as they did against Sparty last season.

Nevada and Boise both pulled off huge comebacks. Boise trailed 31-13 with four minutes left in the second quarter but came all the way back for a 36-31 win despite two drives that stalled out in the red zone and a fumble.

Nevada trailed 31-14 with six minutes left in the third quarter and still trailed 31-24 when they got the ball back with 3 1/2 minutes left to play, yet here we are celebrating a win after Nevada’s freshman kicker Brandon Taillon nailed a 56-yarder on his second career attempt.

Fresno State will apparently be the Jorge Reyna show for better or worse. He fumbled on his first rushing attempt and went 7-for-12 for 73 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but eventually did just enough to keep the Bulldogs nipping at USC’s heels all game. He’ll have to work on ball security and decision making to be a successful quarterback and not just a spectacle.

San Diego State, on the other hand, probably wishes they had Reyna. The Aztecs only allowed FCS Weber State (preseason #8 Weber State but still…) to cross midfield one time, yet would have lost if that lone drive produced a touchdown, because they reached the red zone only three times all game, and only produced six points.

Wyoming found ample running room on the ground as Sean Chambers and Xazavian Holladay 27 times for 238 yards, including touchdown runs of 61 and 75 yards. By the end of the third quarter, the Pokes had turned a 14-0 deficit into a 34-17 lead, and then they survived a late Tiger charge.

New Mexico also held on to topple Sam Houston State, but head coach Bob Davie appears to have had a damn heart attack in the process.

MAC

Everybody either beat an FCS opponent or got beaten by a P5 team. We already discussed EMU and the only other interesting note was that Ball State gave Indiana a good fight.

FBS Independents

Army’s defense made one mistake the entire game, but it was near-deadly because the offense made more than their share. Hopefully, it’s a bug and not a feature of this 2019 team.

New Mexico State was even less ready for Washington State’s offense than I anticipated, and now they’ll double down on the struggle by traveling to face some team called Alabama.

Liberty had their moments but had some horribly-timed mistakes. Their initial drive was extended by a muffed punt from Syracuse but ended in a missed field goal. Their next drive went: 56-yard pass, one-yard run, one-yard run ending in a red-zone fumble. It was that kind of day.

UMass opened their game with three straight touchdown drives plus an interception and led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter. Then halftime came and they were down 38-21 because the only thing their defense did in the second quarter was hold Rutgers to a field goal on one of their five drives.

UMass’s first three drives? 24 plays, 194 yards, 21 points.

UMass’s remaining nine drives? 45 plays, 106 yards, 0 points. Woof.

CUSA

Fortunately for me, Charlie over at The Daily Dragon already said a lot of the same things I would have written here.

I’ll have more to say about UTEP a little later on, though…

AAC

UCF walloped Florida A&M but lost Brandon Moore to a broken leg in the process. Why a defensive starter was still playing in a 55-0 game, I shall never know.

Tulane manhandled FIU, and I was there to see the whole thing. It is yet to be determined how much of that evening where Tulane spent the night dominating in the trenches (out-rushed FIU 350-59, three sacks, two turnovers) was Tulane winning as opposed to FIU losing, but the Green Wave definitely looked like a contender.

UConn barely survived Wagner. The first half saw the Huskies produce three three-and-outs on offense, plus a touchdown, a field goal, and a failed fourth-and-one conversion.

The second half was no better, as they opened with a fumble just outside the red zone and a drive that started at the Wagner 36 and ended in a pick-six four plays later. Kevin Mensah and Art Thompkins ran for 235 yards but needed 53 carries to do it.

USF got embarrassed by Wisconsin. They forced a turnover and five punts but still gave up six touchdowns. They also turned the ball over four times themselves and didn’t cross midfield until their final drive, which ended with a missed 43-yard field goal.

Cincinnati handled UCLA but was a bit sloppy and probably should have won by a lot more, and the same could be said for Memphis with Ole Miss

Temple and Navy walloped a couple of Patriot League teams, while Tulsa and ECU played well but were never in danger of beating Michigan State or NC State.

SMU and UH both looked good on offense – one held on to beat Arkansas State, the other got dominated by Oklahoma.

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